UN Team Unveils Asteroid Defense Plan
On the same day massive rock buzzes the Earth
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2013 8:39 AM CST
This image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows a simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013.   (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

(Newser) – An asteroid about half the size of a football field will whiz past Earth today, closer than any object of its size ever has before (OK, almost any object), and a much smaller meteor actually hit Russia this morning, injuring hundreds. But fear not, people of Earth: Soon, we may have the power to fight off rocks from outer space. The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs will today present a plan to guard against and react to threats from the cosmos, Bloomberg reports.

The plan, which has been in the works for 12 years, includes a global asteroid warning system, and a team tasked with overseeing space missions to either destroy menacing asteroids or deflect them with a "gravity tractor." NASA already tracks near-earth asteroids, but only has tabs on the 1,310 biggest—which might represent less than 10% of the threats out there. And while it could be decades before one becomes a problem, "we could find one that would give us three months," the head of the UN group says. The General Assembly will likely consider the plan during its October meeting.